English | Special Studies in English & American Literature
L780 | 25916 | Bose
L780/C701 25916/22217 BOSE (#6)
Special Studies in English & American Literature
2:30p – 3:45p TR
TOPIC: POST-COLONIAL THEORY
By the twentieth century, over eighty per cent of the earth’s land
surface had been colonized. For the British, imperial expansion was
accompanied and consolidated by the spread of the English language
and the inculcation of British cultural values through education.
Colonial educational policies, however, became both politically and
culturally double-edged. At the political level, they would result
in the cultivation of a native clerical class to serve the Empire,
and, simultaneously, the dissemination of bourgeois democratic
ideals among the native, educated elite. Inspired by these ideals,
this elite would emerge as the leadership of anti-colonial
movements. At the cultural level, colonialism would have a profound
impact on English literature, introducing semantic systems and
epistemologies that have radically reshaped the novel.
This course will investigate the emergence and use of post-colonial
theory as a primary intellectual framework through which to analyze
colonial relationships and their political and cultural legacies. We
will begin by reading foundational texts in the field including
Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, Aime Cesaire’s Discourse
on Colonialism, Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and Edward
Said’s Orientalism. We will be concerned with how these texts
disclose the ideological and discursive operations of Empire and
anti-colonial nationalism. In particular, we will ask what kind of
relationship these works posit between institutions and the
Throughout the course, we will consider some of the seminal issues
which define the history of post-colonial studies, such as the role
of women in national liberation struggles, the ways that prison
serves as an alternative site of learning, the utility of dependency
theory for understanding global disparities of wealth, the status of
the subaltern and the challenges of archiving subaltern
consciousness, and the relationship between colonialism and
globalization. Near the end of the course, we will turn to the
institutionalization of post-colonial studies and question to what
extent it has been driven by identity politics and the structure of
global capitalism. Finally, we will examine how the emphasis on
South Asia in the field has had an impact on its ability to develop
models for understanding colonialism in other geopolitical sites.
Students should expect to write weekly electronic journals, take an
active role in classroom discussion, and write a twenty-page seminar
paper. In addition, students will be required to attend one or two
lectures by visiting speakers outside of class.
A tentative list of readings includes:
Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures.
Eqbal Ahmed, Confronting Empire.
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins
and Spread of
Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism.
Cynthia Enloe, The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New
Age of Empire.
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Richard Philcox’s
Robert Foster, Materializing the Nation, Commodities, Consumption,
and Media in
Papua New Guinea.
Ranajit Guha and Gayatri Spivak’s edited collection, Selected
Harry Harootunian, The Empire’s New Clothes: Paradigm Lost, and
Anne McClintock, Aamir Mufti, Ella Shohat editors, Dangerous
Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives.
Edward Said, Orientalism.
E. San Juan Jr.’s Beyond Post-Colonial Theory
I will also assemble a packet of articles on the
institutionalization of post-colonial studies and the relationship
between colonialism and globalization.